NHSE&I publish details of C-19 vac booster programme

Following the publication by NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) of a letter setting out early guidance for the NHS on planning for a COVID-19 vaccine booster programme – referred to as phase 3 of the vaccination programme – full information on how pharmacy contractors can apply to participate in the programme has now been published.

Today, NHSE&I have published the following documents:

Letter to all community pharmacy contractors

The Phase 3 Local Enhanced Service specification

Guidance on the Community Pharmacy Phase 3 Site Designation Process

The Phase 3 service specification seeks to implement interim advice from JCVI on the potential COVID-19 booster programme. This advice suggests the COVID-19 booster vaccines should be offered in two stages from September, starting with those most at risk from serious disease and that the seasonal flu vaccine should be offered alongside the third, booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The service specification for phase 3 is largely based on the current Local Enhanced Service specification for phases 1 and 2. Following a successful pilot of pharmacies administering lower volumes of vaccines, NHSE&I are now allowing contractors to express an interest in being commissioned to provide COVID-19 vaccines from a low capacity site (100 vaccination per week) in addition to the previous medium (350 vaccination per week) and large volume (1000 vaccination per week) site options.

Expressions of interest need to be submitted by 5pm on Wednesday 28th July 2021. Contractors already providing the COVID-19 vaccination service for phases 1 and 2 will also be required to express an interest in phase 3 following the same process.

NHSE&I webinar for contractors

NHSE&I are holding a webinar at 18:30 tomorrow (Thursday 15th July 2021) to share further details about the phase 3 arrangements.

Register for the webinar (now closed)

Commenting on the developments, Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services at PSNC said:

“From the start of the pandemic, PSNC has been clear that community pharmacies were well placed to play a big part in the COVID-19 vaccination programme and the work of the 600+ pharmacies already administering the vaccines has validated that view.

“For several months, we have been advocating for a wider role for the sector in any booster programme, so the release of the service specification for the phase 3 programme and the start of the expression of interest period is a really welcome development.

“The new low capacity site option will allow more pharmacies to play their part in the vaccination programme, alongside the established role the sector has in the annual flu vaccination programme.”

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